On March 10, 2016, USCIS updated its FAQ on employment authorization for certain H-4 spouses. Pursuant to new regulations that went into effect last May, an H-4 spouse whose H-1B spouse is the principal beneficiary of an approved I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker or whose H-1B spouse has filed for an extension of status beyond the normal six-year limit in accordance with the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 ("AC21") is now eligible to request employment authorization. In March, 2016, USCIS updated its FAQ on this topic to address several unique issues that arise for H-4 spouses seeking this employment authorization.
This multi-page FAQ helps applicants determine if they are eligible to file, reviews the application process, explains the basis for adjudication of the applications, discusses the applicant's status while awaiting adjudication, and outlines what happens once employment authorization is received. In particular the FAQ confirms the H-4 spouse must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for employment authorization and additionally confirms that if the applicant's I-765 application is filed concurrently with an I-539 application to change status to H-4, the applicant must remain in the U.S. until the request to change status to H-4 is approved. USICS will deny both the I-539 and I-765 application for employment authorization if the applicant travels abroad before the change of status is approved. To read the full FAQ, please visit the USCIS website.